I believe my strength as an arts therapist is in my creative work with traumatised individuals and groups. This specialised focus on using arts therapy for trauma recovery began in the early 1990’s when I worked with individuals and families with HIV/AIDS in South Africa and was deepened when earthquakes began battering Christchurch in September 2010.
After the February 2011 quake, I ran arts therapy sessions with groups of quake-shaken children and adults to help them express their distress and find some peace. I was then contracted to the Canterbury District Health Board to work specifically with earthquake-stressed children. In addition, I worked one-on-one with children and adults from all walks of life who either came privately, or were referred by GPs and the Hospitals. My clients – who ranged in age from 5 years to 75 years old – came to me with a wide variety of problems including trauma, anxiety, chronic pain, depression and grief.
While I still work with lots of problems related to the earthquakes, I now also have clients with other issues too. My clients and I work creatively – and often playfully – using mindfulness-based arts therapy and a mixture of arts materials and approaches including visual art-making such as drawing, painting, clay modelling, dance/movement, drama and creative writing in a studio in my Lyttelton garden.
In addition to my one-on-one arts therapy work, I have run various training workshops with local organisations and am available to run groups and offer supervision. I have run regular sessions at MHAPS, training workshops and/or therapy/supervision sessions for various bodies including Canteen, Salvation Army, Familial Support, Women’s Centre, Family Works/Presbyterian Support, Christchurch Hospital Paediatrics and Burwood Hospital Beacon House.
I am registered with the Australia and New Zealand Arts Therapy Association (ANZATA) and am regional representative for the Creative Therapies Association Aotearoa (CTAA). Within the past two years I have published several articles in peer-reviewed journals and also presented at Conferences in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.
I was born in Zambia, raised in South Africa and have lived in Scotland, England, Australia and on the North Island of New Zealand before, in 2008, succumbing to the beauty of the South Island, Christchurch, and Lyttelton in particular. Before arriving in New Zealand, I collected a few qualifications in Africa – including an Honours degree in Drama, a Postgraduate degree in Adult Education and a Master’s degree in Education – and began my career in the early 1990’s in the fields of community development, adult education, and life skills/HIV/AIDS education and counselling. I worked for South African Universities and the Health Department using a range of creative approaches including drama-in-education and community theatre.
In New Zealand, I gained a Master’s degree in Arts Therapy (Clinical) and in 2016 was awarded my doctorate through the University of Auckland, Department of Education, for a thesis exploring my experiences as an arts therapist both living through and helping others live through the Christchurch quakes.